Chris Matthews, joined by two liberal talk radio hosts on Tuesday's Hardball, essentially blamed the likes of conservative hosts like Mark Levin for creating the climate of hate that led to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as the envious MSNBC host proclaimed: "People like Mark Levin, Michael Savage...every time you listen to them are furious, furious at the left with anger that's just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial, they're just in some rage, every night, with ugly talk....They must have an audience. I looked at the numbers today. They have big audiences! And I guess that's the question. Why and is it ever going to stop if it keeps working?"

Before that Matthews rant, Philadelphia area radio host Michael Smerconish coined a word in his attack on conservative chatter as he talked about "the hatriolic comments" he's heard and in referring to a scene he saw at a town hall meeting worried: "These are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all."

E. Steven Collins, another Philly area talker, sided with Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who attacked Rush Limbaugh, as he hailed: "The sheriff in Tucson was absolutely right...It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not" and added that there was a "direct relationship" with Sarah Palin putting crosshairs on her Web site over Giffords' district and the loss of a life of "that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson." 

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Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, accused Fox News of "whipping up white hysteria" over allegations of the New Black Panther Party intimidating voters in Philadelphia as he wondered, at the top of his show, if there was "a rightist strategy to stir up racial resentment among whites by portraying whites as victims of black rule?" The Hardball host, during a discussion about the New Black Panther Party case with Philadelphia radio talk show hosts Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins, claimed that "Fox News and its friends" were pushing the story to motivate voters in the midterms because "I think there's nothing the Republican Party likes better than a nice, scared white voter. Let's be honest about it."

While Matthews did agree with Smerconish, about some of the merits of the case, the thrust of the segment was that Fox News and the right were pushing the New Black Panther Party story to race-bait as Matthews claimed: "This is just an attempt by the people on the right, I guess, especially Fox, to just keep pushing this, this beach ball in the air until it finally creates some noise."

The following teaser and full segment were aired on the July 27 Hardball:



A week ago I was mystified when Chris Matthews went out of his way to butter up Ed Rendell when the Dem Pennsylvania governor appeared on Hardball, and described the schmoozing here. Now, call it mystery likely solved. According to one account, Matthews has approached Rendell for help in a possible 2010 U.S. Senate run. That seems an ever-more-likely scenario, given Matthews's decidely non-Shermanesque response to a suggestion that he's well-positioned to make a run against Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010.

The "Hardball" host's intriguing comments came in response to Philly-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who speculated on Wednesday's show about the possibility of a Matthews Senate campaign.

Unexpectedly, the former Tip O'Neill aide declined to tamp down the rumor: